Cannes Lions

Progressive & Zynga bring Flo to Words With Friends

ZYNGA, San Francisco / PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE / 2023

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Overview

Background

No stranger to innovation, Progressive wanted to transcend traditional media channels and connect with their audience where they are – on their mobile devices.

With over half of the US population playing mobile games, this advertising channel reaches a large, diverse audience that can be accessed at any time within a game. Players are enthusiastic about their gaming experience and Progressive wanted to tap into this spirit to drive consideration toward their insurance. Because it is an intangible product, Progressive wanted to leverage its character, Flo, to create an authentic connection.

Having been born from a TV commercial 15 years ago, Flo is a long-standing cultural icon. She humanizes insurance, which can feel impersonal and would provide a friendly face for players. However, translating Flo into mobile gaming would be no easy task, which is why Progressive called upon Zynga, the world’s largest mobile publisher, to provide a solution.

Idea

Zynga’s creative arm, Studio E, partnered with Progressive to translate their lifelike, but fictional character, Flo, to the mobile audience while maintaining her charming persona our culture has grown to love. While Studio E is considered an in-house agency, it is also a world-class gaming studio run by seasoned game designers, who create custom advertising experiences primed to resonate with the mobile audience.

Players demand authenticity in their gaming experience. Flo has been in countless commercials and at the heart of Progressive’s marketing, which meant the in-game integration had to accurately represent both. Flo herself has built a constant, recognizable image and her playful nature lent well to fit within mobile gaming’s light-hearted, environment.

To create an immersive experience that was not intrusive, Flo’s avatar was recreated to fit within the Words With Friends aesthetic, while still maintaining her physical appearance and charming personality.

Strategy

Zynga identified Words With Friends as the perfect vehicle to introduce Flo to mobile gaming. Words With Friends has been an iconic franchise for over 14 years, building a loyal audience of over 14.5mm users, who connect over their mutual love of words daily.

Rather than focusing on traditional messaging, Progressive wanted to enhance the player experience and create a novel way for consumers to interact with Flo. After hearing players were looking for more ways to play the word game, Words With Friends and Progressive created the “celebri-bot challenge”, a new game mode where players could face off against Flo in a continuous match in between rounds.

By tying Progressive to a highly sought-after feature, Progressive could capture the full attention of players and immerse the brand’s messaging into the game.

Outcome

The 4-day integration on Words With Friends generated over 101MM impressions, exposing Progressive’s insurance offering to a wide audience base. Over 11M players challenged Flo in the “celebri-bot challenge” and the game saw a 63% increase in time spent, showing players enjoyed the new experience. Out of the players who completed the challenge, 99% unlocked a custom Progressive frame that they could display in their player profile forever, which further drove brand lift and awareness.

In addition to the “celebri-bot challenge”, Progressive’s rewarded video had a 95% completion rate, proving that players had an appetite for in-game advertising that brought in extra rewards. Most notably, Progressive saw a lift in players fielding insurance quotes on their website, which showed the integration aided in consideration.

Based on the results, Progressive was able to authentically engage with the Words With Friends community through strategic placements and unique creative thoughtfully integrated into gameplay.

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